Not sure if you're like me, but I have music playing from first thing in the morning, until 45 minutes after my head hits the pillow. I can't explain exactly how that came about, but to say that it's been that way since my early teens. Never has it been so easy... or confusing... to have music on all the time. How to choose? Well obviously, quality sometimes takes a back seat to convenience. I have two iPods, a mac mini , XM, a Blu-ray player, and a cable box connected to my house system. So at 7:30 am, the keypad on the wall and the espresso machine go on. Remarkably, I can actually multi-task and hit both buttons at once, before coffee has even passed my lips.
I'll start mellow typically. Maybe Allison Kraus and Robert Plant. Vintage Miles Davis. Or Radiohead's Rainbows. Additional keypads engage Klipsch in-ceiling speakers as I shuffle through my morning routine. Yes... tunes in the shower too. If the sounds don't suit my mood, I am but a button press away from "next". Easy eh?
It was not always so. Certain of my diehard audiophile friends turn up their noses at in-ceiling speakers and iPods. I get that. Nothing like a well setup pair of floorstanding towers, and a dialed-in subwoofer playing from a high quality source and an amplifier built like a truck. No TV. No chatter. Just beautiful music.
"But I don't have time for that these days", you say. Yeah, me too... But recently, I've been making the time for exactly that. It's great! The shoulders relax. Unfurrowed brow. The day's agenda melts away for a short while. Do I see you nodding in agreement? It's made me dig back through my collection for gems that I have lost over time to the convenience of shuffle mode. I'm only talking about 20- 40 minutes after work or last thing in my day. I'm sure I will live longer if I keep this up. The cats like it too.
But here's a point: how many have ever really experienced a great stereo system? I don't mean mega-buck rigs that are in the stratosphere. I mean well chosen, carefully matched components, with every setup detail attended to. Eyes closed, speakers disappear, the room boundaries dissolve, revealing a great performance. Transporting listener to a smokey club in another time. Or a concert performance you vaguely remember from your hazy past. It's all part of your personal soundtrack for your life.
Asking my friends what I should say in this Brand Talk forum, I came to understand a couple of things: most are unsure how to determine sound quality. " It's wasted on me. I can't tell the difference. " or " it sounds good to me, but I can't tell you why." Maybe that's something we could explore here? I mean, if you move up a model in speakers, what should you expect? What's the best choice for my room or musical bent? Eternal quests to be sure, but certainly worthy of conversation. Another related realization: most are unsure of "the chain". I'm talking about the hierarchy of source, processing (if applicable), amplification, cabling, speakers and of course, the room. What role does each play in the final result? What could I do to get the best out of my set-up? We'll talk...
I've been very lucky ( and persistent!). As a young musician, believing I was going to make it, and never work a day at a regular job, I had the good fortune to play music most nights of the week, tour Australia (I used to live there) with a couple of bands... and even record some stuff in the studio. I was so dismayed to discover that what we so carefully recorded, when heard on our stereo at the "band house" sounded like $#*!!. So began my quest...
I haunted the stores, asked questions, saved my $$ for better gear, talked to the tech's that ran our concert PA system. Learned all I could about sound. Learned to run the big touring system. Asked more questions...
Then one day, several years later when reality had set in, I walked into an audio store and asked for a job. Right. Who's gonna hire a starving musician that looks like he can't afford to pay attention! Well, it turns out that the guy running the place was overjoyed that he could count on someone like me to help people find musical joy. "Wow... you know how all this stuff works." To this day, that's still where I find the greatest satisfaction.
I ran into that last month in Calgary, still managing a store. I reminded him of that job interview. He smiled.
So it turns out I've been rambling, and I've said nothing about my brands: Klipsch and Energy speakers. The best of US and Canadian speaker heritage! I didn't even go near home theatre and surround sound! What am I thinking?
Well there's time for that... We haven't even met yet. I would love to hear your thoughts on music, quality playback...and great wines under 50 bucks.
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